Arizona Cardinals superstar Chandler Jones has been one of the NFL’s best pass rushers since arriving in the desert in 2016 following a trade with the Patriots. But that all changed in 2020, when Jones missed the final 11 games of the season with a biceps injury that required surgery. The Cardinals are set to incur a massive $20.83 million cap in 2021 — the final year of Jones’ contract. Arizona could save $15.5 million by releasing Jones this offseason, but that won’t be an option, according to general manager Steve Keim.
Keim made that point clear with three words, saying on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM: “I’ll reject that.”
While the Cardinals won’t be moving on from Jones, Keim wouldn’t comment on extension talks with the two-time All-Pro. Jones finished with one sack and 10 pressures in five games for the Cardinals in 2020, before his season-ending injury. Prior to the 2020 season, Jones recorded 60 sacks from 2016-19 — the most in the NFL. His 98 quarterback hits were second in the league to only Aaron Donald (123) and Jones was the only player in the league with 10-plus sacks every season from 2016-19. Jones had five consecutive seasons of 10-plus sacks in a season snapped in 2020.
While Jones won’t be going anywhere in 2021, he could be getting immediate help on the defensive line as DeAndre Hopkins is recruiting J.J. Watt to join the Cardinals this offseason following his release from the Houston Texans, a franchise where the two were teammates for seven seasons.
“I don’t want to get into details, but as you know, if there’s an opportunity that makes sense on both the football side and the business side, we’ll certainly take a swing,” Keim said. “It’s certainly fun to see your players get involved. Obviously, Hop’s a guy that I’ve got a great deal of respect for and not just as a player, but obviously the addition of him has certainly improved our recruiting game.”